How is the egg pickup performed?

Following administration of the trigger, the egg pickup (EPU) needs to be performed within a narrow time frame, usually around 34-37 hours after the trigger. EPU needs to be long enough after the trigger to allow time for the eggs to mature, but not too long after, as this will allow time for the eggs to be released from the follicles within the body.

EPU is performed in an operating theatre. It can be done under general anaesthetic or using light sedation. Transvaginal ultrasound is used to visualise the follicles and to safely guide a needle through the vaginal wall directly into each large follicle within the ovary.

Using a suction pump, the fluid from each of the follicles is aspirated into a test-tube. This fluid is then inspected under a high-powered microscope by the embryology scientist to determine whether an egg has been obtained. Not every follicle produces an egg.

The EPU procedure usually lasts around 30 minutes. Following EPU, there is often some discomfort from the ovaries, which is easily managed with pain-killers. In trained hands, EPU is a very safe procedure but occasionally complications can occur. The commonest one is bleeding, which usually settles on its own.